Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers and renowned philosopher, envisioned all American citizens with equal rights, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. The unalienable right of Pursuit of Happiness can be defined as the right to prosper and thrive in the time Jefferson had written the Declaration of Independence. From the time of the liberation of the colonies to present day, there has been an inequality in the ability to pursuit happiness, whether it was because of how much money one possessed, which race or gender one belonged to, or even which religion ou wished to practice.
In Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, he says “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” meaning that Martin Luther King Jr. suffered because the African American minority had tried to waited for their freedom rather than demand freedom from oppressors. The people who are being limited to their access to pursuit their own happiness, must fight to those who are restraining their right to prosperity and wellbeing.
Jefferson’s revolutionary vision of human equality has not yet been achieved in America because there has never een more inequality in terms of happiness between the lower class and upper class citizens of this country, as the lower class struggles to fight for their right to pursue happiness because of their limited ability to ascend in the economic class, earn a decent living, and working in the career of choice, unlike the upper class citizens who thrive and prosper due to their tax breaks which come at the cost of happiness of the lower class citizens.
The right to pursue happiness has been steadily becoming less available to lower class citizens due to the limited mount of opportunities to pursue higher education. Higher education has been shown to be the keystone for lower class citizens to rise out of poverty into the middle class or even upper class. The lack of higher education on the other hand often will result in working minimum wage jobs keeping the uneducated in poverty, while the upper class would not have to worry as their economic status would lead to a plethora of opportunities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, citizens working full time with just a high school diploma earn half the salary of a college graduate, and the unemployment ate for someone without a college degree is almost double that of someone with a college degree. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education the tuition rate since the 1980’s have increased about 439%, while median family income rose only 147% meaning the tuition rate increased three folds for the median income families.
Part of the reason education is costing more is that the tuition costs slowly drifted from taxpayer’s responsibility to the student’s. Even community college has become harder to afford, costing approximately 50% of the lower class’s median household ncome. This causes people that can’t afford college education, the lower class, to stay uneducated and to stay working minimum wage jobs, trapping them in the lower class. The problem with making education more affordable is that no one who has the money wants to pay for it.
The affluent citizens want to keep as much money as they can to buy things for themselves and their wealthy friends and family without regarding the effect it could have if it was used to provide lower class citizens the help to rise out of poverty. The rich often use loopholes to lower the amount of tax they pay on their income, nd according to LA Times in 2009, 1,470 households reported over $1 million in income but did not pay any federal income taxes. According to an IRS report and the Citizens for Tax Justice(CTJ) website, the nation’s top 1% tax rate was 24. % in 2014 and the top 400 households top tax rate was 19. 91% in 2009 while the average worker earning $75,000 pays at a 19. 7% rate. Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a solution to the unaffordability of education during his presidential campaign. He wanted to make college accessible to anyone who seeked higher education by making it tuition free and debt free, as how ven University of California system used to be until the 1980’s.
It is estimated that college tuition could be free if there was a budget of $47 billion, which could be easily obtained by taxing the top 0. % (115,000 households whose average income is $9. 4 million) by 40%. This gives the people who are trapped working menial jobs another chance at getting a higher education to help them rise out of poverty, and get out of the lower class. Advocates of the trickle down theory say that taxing the upper class will only hurt the economy, and giving the rich tax breaks will help everyone in a long term scale. Advocates of this ideology say taxing the wealthy will make them unhappy with the country and will make them emigrate to a country with lower tax rate.
Proponents of tax breaks say that when the affluent are given tax breaks the economy will prosper because the rich are more likely to spend. The tax break advocates say cutting the top tax rate will increase economic growth because when the wealthy spend their money, growth will occur in small businesses, which in turn causes wage growth, income growth as well as job creation. The advocates say that this all increases he tax revenue for the government in the end, so cutting taxes for the rich is the long term solution to the inequality between the lower class and upper class.
It might be true that giving the rich tax breaks might give the economy a boost in terms of job creation, and economic growth, however, the top 0. 1% earns an average of $94 million dollars and taxing them at a 40% rate would leave them with more than enough money to spend lavishly, giving the same effect as if they were given tax breaks. Even if the top 1% (1. 13 million households that earn an average of $2. 1 million) were taxed at 40%, they would walk away with ore than a 100 times the average household income of the bottom 10%.
When the top tax rate of the last 50 years is compared with GDP growth, income growth, hourly wage growth, and change in unemployment rate of the last 50 years, it shows that the tax rate has no effect on any off these. There are times decreasing the top tax rate, has a positive effect, but there also times when it has a negative affect. The only thing top tax rates have an effect on is the inequality in America. Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary vision of human equality for America has not been achieved in terms of the right to pursuit appiness.
The lower class are trapped in the minimum wage, menial jobs with no opportunity to receive higher education because of the financial burden, while the upper class use loopholes to keep money without acknowledging that the money could have be used to make education more affordable and create more jobs helping all American citizens achieve equal right of happiness. One solution to this problem is increasing tax rates to 40% for the top 0. 1% or the top 1% who would still be taking hundreds of times more than the bottom 10% of households.
Although proponents of the trickle down heory suggest that increasing the tax rate would any hurt the economy and in turn hurt the lower class more in the long term, statistical analysis of the tax rate and economic growth of the last 50 years prove otherwise. As Martin Luther King Jr. urged the oppressed to fight back against the oppressor, the oppressed have been fighting back against the oppressors who are the wealthy who don’t pay enough tax, while not having to face the consequences of their greed. Although there is a saying that money doesn’t buy happiness, it seems that money does buy the right to thrive and prosper in America.